16 Dec 2019
Canberra and London are looking to agree on a deal that will see Australian workers travel to the UK visa-free. This would take place under a post-Brexit free trade agreement. Both sides are hoping to reach a deal before Christmas 2020.
With Boris Johnson gaining a huge majority during last week’s election, the UK’s exit from the EU is on the brink and imminent. Once done, both Australia and the UK would be able to start formal negotiations.
Currently, the UK is the second largest source of foreign investment in Australia, at around $574.8 billion reported in 2018.
The British PM had previously pushed for a trans-Tasman-style free movement between the two countries once the UK leaves the bloc.
Speaking at the Conservative Party's leadership race this year, Johnson said, “These are nations that are very similar in many ways – we share very, very similar interests and a uniquely shared set of values."
Additionally, British High Commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell stated, “We want easy business to be done between our two countries. Part of that is actually how the movement of people takes place between our two countries. We want to open up sectors in both directions to do even more trade and attract even more investment."
The idea has been developing for around 2 years. Treadell added, “I think the ambition on both sides is to do it as quickly as possible. A year is not unrealistic because there is political will on both sides.”
Following a significant loss in the general election, Labour's trade spokeswoman Madeleine King said, “But, as with all trade agreements, it is important that an Australia-UK FTA is in the best interests of Australian workers and Australian business. Labour believes that diversifying and growing Australian export markets across the world is vital for the economy, for jobs, and the prosperity of all Australians."